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Lower legal drinking age to 18

Jan 14, 2014 - Lena Wammer, Riverton

Editor:

At the age of 18 we are being considered as adults. Being able to vote, go to war, purchase tobacco, get married, adopt a child, sign legal documents and contracts, get a loan and insurance, buy or rent a house, be convicted has an adult, go to jail and pay taxes.

So how is it that someone can go to war or be convicted as an adult but isn't allowed to purchase or drink alcohol? Where is the logic in this line of thinking?

The Constitution states you are free to make your own decisions and find your pursuit of happiness. How, then, is it that an 18-year-old can be called an adult but cannot walk down to the nearest pub and have a drink after working all day?

Ruth C. Engs, professor of applied health sciences at Indiana University, said in an interview "a majority of young people under the age consume alcohol, and to many of them do so in a responsible manner. Because it is seen as the forbidden fruit and as rebellion against authority."

Basically, young people under age consume alcohol because they are not allowed to, which makes them want it more. If the drinking age would be lowered, drinking alcohol would be less appealing because it is no longer a forbidden fruit."

Again, according to the professor, research from the early 1980s to the present has shown a continuous decrease in drinking and driving-related variables, and also university students, decrease in per capita consumption. However, these declines started in 1980, before the national 1987 law which mandated states to have a 21-year-old alcohol purchase law. This did, in fact, directly result in reduced alcohol-related car crashes. The national minimum drinking age act was made in 1984. It said that all states must legislate the age of 21 has a minimum age for purchasing and drinking alcohol.

The decreasing drinking and driving problems is the result of many factors and not just arise in purchasing age or the decreased per capita consumption. These include education concerning the driving, designated driver programs, increased seat belt and airbag use, safer automobiles, lower speed limits, free taxi services from drinking establishments, and more.

Other countries such as Norway, China, Greece and Italy, which have fewer drinking-related problems, tend to share some common characteristics. Alcohol is neither seen as a poison nor a magic potent, there is little or no pressure to drink, irresponsible behavior is never tolerated, young people learn at home from their parents and other adults how to handle alcohol in a responsible manner.

There is societal consensus on what constitutes responsible drinking. Because the 21-year-old drinking age is not working and is counterproductive, it behooves us as a nation to change our current probation clock and teach responsible drinking techniques for those who choose to consume alcohol.

I believe the drinking age should be lowered to 18. The problem today is that people don't think that 18-year-olds can drink responsibly and are a danger to themselves and to others.

If there would be better education about alcohol, the average citizen would be more aware of how to drink responsibly.

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